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Arizona football: Freddie Tagaloa still trying to shake off the rust

The highly-talented offensive lineman is probably never going to be his old self

Northern Arizona v Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

When Freddie Tagaloa transferred from Cal to Arizona, expectations were sky-high.

With a height of 6-foot-8 and a frame that is typically only seen in the movies, he was penciled in to protect the Wildcat quarterbacks’ blind-sides for the final two years of his college career.

Even right away, he was receiving praise from everywhere on the team, especially in the year he couldn’t play because of the transfer rule.

But then a knee injury in 2015 set him back a long ways, and he still hasn’t recovered fully after missing the final four games of last season.

"Still shaking some rust off I’d say," Tagaloa admitted on Tuesday. "Things that I’m doing well at, I kind of try to forget and focus on things I’m not doing well at. Try to move my feet more."

Because of the lingering knee issues, Tagaloa has been moved from left tackle to left guard, as Layth Friekh took over the tackle position after the fifth game of 2015.

After playing on the outside at tackle for most of his football life, Tagaloa has kind of had to re-learn how to play offensive line.

"Inside’s more aggressive, outside’s more finesse," he said about the main differences. "Guard, everything happens so quick, cuz at the end, guys kind of have to look into the backfield, so you have more time, so it’s more of a finesse game. Whereas inside, everything happens quick, so you gotta be aggressive and firm."

"I go from being real patient to having to get on guys quick."

Tagaloa isn’t the only offensive lineman struggling through the first two games. The o-line as a whole has probably been Arizona’s weakest link to this point. He’s just one of the guys struggling up front.

"I didn’t think his last game was his best," Rich Rodriguez said this week. "He always plays hard, but that’s the one thing I love about Freddie is that he continues to work on things but he can play better."

Overthinking seems to be Tagaloa’s downfall so far.

"I think sometimes you try to do too much," continued Rodriguez. "It’s almost like a quarterback. When you’re getting a lot of different blitzes as an o-lineman, you’re looking at too many things and you’re overcomplicating it a little too much."

"I’m trying to put the whole picture together instead of keying on certain keys I got burned on last week," added Tagaloa. "So like I said, still shaking some rust off, trying to get back in game mode."

Arizona will need that rust to be completely gone sooner than later, as the Wildcats are thrown right into the fire to start Pac-12 play. Without better play from the offensive line, this team will be hurting big time.